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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Views by the Echo Press


Thumbs Down: It seems pretty clear cut. If a legislator is pulled over for drunk driving, he or she should have to go through the same legal consequences as everyday citizens. Shockingly, that’s not the case. An antiquated law provides them with a kind of “get out of jail free” card. While the Legislature is in session, legislators are immune to all offenses, except for treason, felonies or breach of peace. The law was believed to have been enacted generations ago to prevent political leaders from having members of a rival party arrested before key votes were taken. A group of Concordia University-St. Paul political science students, including former Jefferson High School graduate, Hope Baker, have been trying to get the law changed – adding drunk driving as a legitimate reason for an arrest – but they’ve met resistance from several legislators and their bill is still stuck in committees. To his credit, Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, a former sheriff, has been very supportive of the student’s proposal, but it’s been an uphill climb. Those who oppose the idea offer up some weak arguments, claiming that legislators aren’t abusing the privilege, or that if a legislator was really drunk behind the wheel, he or she would be arrested. It’s time to end this elitist, special treatment that legislators are getting for an offense that puts other people’s lives at risk. The Legislature should approve HF2282.


Thumbs Down: Here’s an alarming fact: One in five Minnesota boaters who were checked, broke invasive species laws in 2013. The report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources contained a glimmer of good news – the percentage of violations decreased from the previous year’s 31 percent. But the fact that one in five boaters is failing to protect our lakes is a big cause for concern. Tell all your boating friends about how important it is to keep threats such as zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and Eurasian water milfoil out of our lakes. And remember, state law requires anglers to make sure they fully drain their boat of water before trailering a watercraft; not transport bait water between lakes; and not allow weeds to hang on their trailers. The rules also require boaters to remove the bilge plug from their boat on every overland trip.


Thumbs Up: An Alexandria woman gives a big “thumbs up” to the management of the Viking Plaza Mall for opening their doors before regular store hours and allowing daily walkers to get in some slip-free miles of exercise. “It’s much appreciated!” she said.


Thumbs Down: Here’s another scam that’s making the rounds locally. A Todd County resident told the sheriff’s office that he received a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft who started asking for personal information. The resident suspected a scam and hung up. He did the right thing. Remember to be very cautious about giving out information to a caller about anything you did not initiate.


Thumbs Up: Here’s more proof that pursuing a college degree is worth the effort. A new report shows that the earnings gap between those with and without a college degree is widening. According to the Pew Research Center, today’s U.S. college graduates, 25 to 32 years old, earn a full-time median annual income of $45,500, or 17 percent more in inflation-adjusted dollars than their counterparts made in 1965. By comparison, the median income for young workers the same age with only a high school diploma is $28,000, or 11 percent less than in 1965.